Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Texas thistle decomposing

with 31 comments

As much as I like Texas thistles (Cirsium texanum) when they’re colorfully fresh and fragrant, I also enjoy the chaos into which each flower head falls as it goes to seed. You’re looking at one such as it appeared along Rain Creek Parkway on June 6th. The flowers in the background were Mexican hats (Ratibida columnifera).

If you’re interested in the art and craft of photography, points 1, 2, 4, 6, and 7 in About My Techniques are relevant to today’s portrait.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 23, 2020 at 4:44 AM

31 Responses

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  1. I like the crisp ‘hair’ on this balding seed head, Steve.

    Peter Klopp

    June 23, 2020 at 7:41 AM

  2. The more I looked at this, the more I liked it. The large, black area at the top suggested a title to me: “Into the Void.” Perhaps that’s the destination of at least some of the seeds that fly off.


    June 23, 2020 at 8:00 AM

    • It’s reassuring to hear that “Into the Void” isn’t devoid of appeal for you. As for the large black area being a destination for some of the seeds, there are people who would say that a dark void ultimately awaits everything; others disagree.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 23, 2020 at 8:28 AM

  3. Everybody has a bad hair day, tousle-headed. Once the floss has all blown away, it’ll be a fairly handsome seed head.
    I hope I haven’t already made this comment, but my grandmother would have described it as “stribbley.” That’s a Scottish word, for messy hair, which the Penna. Dutch picked up, along with “ret” or “redd” the table (clear the dishes after a meal).

    Robert Parker

    June 23, 2020 at 8:18 AM

    • As you’ve seen from the sweep of many posts here, I’m fond of portraying seed heads and their remains.

      No, I haven’t heard the Scottish word stribbley, nor of the other word you mentioned, which makes me wonder if it’s related to English rid.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 23, 2020 at 9:30 AM

      • I’ve spent a lot of time admiring seed heads, in part because it’s not green around here most of the year, so you’d better learn to appreciate the brown.

        Robert Parker

        June 23, 2020 at 5:32 PM

        • A practical decision. Sounds like “If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with.”

          Steve Schwartzman

          June 23, 2020 at 5:45 PM

  4. I believe I have attitude issues with this image! Ha ha! I’ve been digging, pulling up and chopping out these invasive plants for decades (in Nebraska too). The image is a reminder that not all of them get culled out, and the seeds will make even more thistle to battle. I know they’re colorful, fragrant and unusual, but oh, how I hate to see them get to the dried and dispersing stage. I might need therapy… 😀


    June 23, 2020 at 8:37 AM

    • Different strokes for different folks. Not having a ranch to maintain, I’m free to enjoy Texas thistles for what they are, and I’ve enjoyed photographing them for two decades. Do you know if the thistles you find troublesome are the alien ones from Eurasia, or do even the native ones cause you trouble?

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 23, 2020 at 9:37 AM

      • Well now there’s a good question. I didn’t know there were native thistle. Looks like I need to do a little research! If they’re native I say no more digging!


        June 23, 2020 at 10:35 AM

  5. Thistles looks great at all stages of their lives, don’t they?


    June 23, 2020 at 9:14 AM

  6. Love the wild “hair” with the dark background and golden sparkles below–well done!


    June 23, 2020 at 11:55 AM

    • Thanks. I’m pleased with it. You’re the third of four commenters so far to see the thistle down as human hair.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 23, 2020 at 5:50 PM

  7. LOL! It’s a little windblown I think. It kinda looks like my hair in the morning. 😀 Okay, seriously the texture and details are wonderful.


    June 23, 2020 at 4:43 PM

    • You’re the fourth commenter so far to see the thistle down as human hair. In spite of appearances, I don’t remember much of a breeze when I took this picture. Thistles seem to have a way of becoming unkempt all by themselves, even if the wind does eventually disseminate the seed-bearing fluff.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 23, 2020 at 5:53 PM

  8. I remember that style from about 1985.


    June 23, 2020 at 7:02 PM

  9. Boy there are definitely days when I know just how this one feels.


    June 24, 2020 at 5:48 AM

    • Ah, the voice of experience. An individual thistle doesn’t recover from it but an individual person can.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 24, 2020 at 6:36 AM

  10. There is beauty in all stages of life. This spent bloom resembles some of these days lately…frazzled.

    Steve Gingold

    June 25, 2020 at 3:19 AM

    • “There is beauty in all stages of life.” Those among us of a certain age are likely to think about such things.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 25, 2020 at 7:35 AM

  11. Made me smile … looks like it is just waking up after a hard night!


    July 1, 2020 at 4:50 PM

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